It’s been a huge day for the NFL’s most prolific tight end talent. Well, two-thirds of the trio at least. George Kittle set the ball rolling by signing a five-year contract worth $75M with $40M being guaranteed, making him the highest-paid TE in the NFL by quite some margin. Travis Kelce then followed suit by signing a 4-year extension worth $57 million that has $28 million in guarantees. But where does this leave Zach Ertz?
Turn on the Bat signal
This is very unlike Howie Roseman. Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, are all examples of players who were signed to cornerstone deals that set the market as opposed to playing catchup. This time round though, things appear to be different.
During the heart of last season, two players were knocking on the door of an extension. One was Lane Johnson, who got his payday in November to the tune of $72M and the other was Zach Ertz, who remains untouched.
It is worth noting that Ertz reportedly denied a deal that was marching to the same beat as Austin Hooper’s $10.5M average yearly value that was given to him last year. It’s not really hard to see why considering the gulf in talent level between the two.
As things stand, Ertz has two years left on his five-year contract currently worth $42M. He’s set to make $12M both this year and the next after restructuring his deal to help the team before, although the Eagles do have a potential out after this season.
The Eagles are $50M over the cap going into next offseason. This is bad news for a tight end who will very understandably deserve a payday that easily sits between Kittle and Kelce.
The wildcard tight end
After the 2021 season comes to a close, Zach Ertz will have played his final contracted year and Goedert’s rookie deal will be up – making them both free agents. Not good.
Dallas Goedert, the team’s second tight end who has shown plenty of potential in the early stages of his career, has always played under a glass ceiling. We may never see what Goedert could truly be capable of with Ertz in the building, but why does that matter when you have the best tandem in the NFL?
The Eagles don’t have much in the way of proven talent behind the tandem and rely so heavily on 12-personnel sets that it almost seems silly to part ways with one of, if not two of, the NFL’s most dangerous tight ends. This isn’t even mentioning the bond Ertz and Wentz share and how important that’s been to the success of the team, with Ertz essentially becoming the team’s leading receiving option since the dawn of the Doug Pederson era.
It’s going to be an interesting next few months for Roseman and co. who know fully well that if Ertz eclipses 1,000 yards once more, his value will only rise going into his contract year.
Ertz has already knocked on the door and his call has remained unanswered. I doubt Howie assumed that both Kittle and Ertz would get paid on the same day, but blink and you miss it. The market has been set and now a GM who is so used to being ahead of the curve will be trying not to be swallowed by the tide.
Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports